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Government ‘ignoring exclusions of black pupils’

BLACK EDUCATION campaigners have accused the government of ignoring the concerns of parents and families after a report aimed at tackling the high exclusion rates of African Caribbean pupils failed to make any recommendations to reduce racial disparities.

The Timpson review into school exclusions published earlier this month was commissioned after Prime Minister Theresa May spoke of her intention to tackle the issue following the Race Disparity Audit of October 2017.

FAILED

Figures show that African Caribbean pupils are one and half times more likely to be excluded than their white counterparts.

Cheryl Phoenix, of the campaign group Black Child Agenda, told The Voice: “I’m not surprised at all that the Timpson review didn’t include any recommendations on racial disparities. It’s blatantly obvious that unless it’s a problem that affects white middle class families the government doesn’t care.”

“If I’m out there educating headteachers and schools and winning 99 per cent of cases where pupils have been excluded due to discriminatory practices then there’s clearly a problem.

“And as far as off-rolling is concerned it’s 100 per cent accurate that schools are still off-rolling disproportionate numbers of black students which is wholly wrong.

“I believe that more training needs to be given to these headteachers and to organisations who fund these schools, many of which are academies which are essentially private businesses to make sure that businesses are treated equally.

“We need to deal with the issue better from a managerial perspective rather than penalising children who may be going through all sorts of stuff.”

Among the other critics of the Timpson review was a coalition of education and race equality organisations including the Runneymede Trust, BTEG, Caribbean & African Health Network and BRAP.

They co-signed a letter published in The Guardian last week which highlighted the fact that the review had few recommendations on race equality.

BULLYING

Referring to the experiences of pupils from African and Caribbean and Gypsy Roma and Traveller (GRT) backgrounds, the letter said: “We know that children from these backgrounds experience considerable racist abuse and bullying in schools, and there are issues with teachers stereotyping and marginalising children from these ethnic groups.
“Racial disparities in exclusions has been a long-term issue and is getting worse with deep cuts in the education sector.” It continued:

“There has been little attempt by the Timpson review to engage and consult with the race equality sector and this is clear from the absence of any recommendations relating to racial disparities – such as schools collecting better data around ethnicity and exclusions, Ofsted holding schools to account for racial disparities in exclusion or the DfE ensuring schools close the exclusion gaps between ethnic groups.

“We are disappointed with the Timpson review because it has missed an important opportunity to address the “burning injustice” of racial inequalities in exclusion rates.”

However in a statement Education Secretary Damian Hinds told The Voice: “This pivotal review demonstrates widespread good practice in support for students and in the use of exclusions, and I will continue to back headteachers in creating safe and orderly environments that enable teachers to teach and provide the right learning conditions for pupils – and sometimes exclusion will be the final option.

“Exclusion should not be considered the endpoint for any child; it has to be the start of something new and positive – with alternative provision offering smaller class sizes and tailored support.

“We also need to support those most at risk of exclusion, taking action before exclusion happens. Too many children can fall through the cracks, so I want schools to be accountable for the pupils they exclude, alongside tackling the practice of illegal off-rolling.

“This is not an easy answer, but it is one that will help the most vulnerable children in our society to fulfil their potential.”

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